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This is that “more thoughts on this” post.

I will be frank. I posted this status only because I assumed there would be few idiots on my FB friend list who might think it’s OK / right for a ban like this, and once they come out in the open, I would just go ahead and get rid of them from Facebook. I was absolutely wrong! What an idiot I am.

…I assumed there would be few idiots on my FB friend list who might think it’s OK / right for a ban like this…

While the majority of my FB friends did say no, a LOT of them said yes, they supported the ban. And they were not all idiots. They were people very dear to me (and are very dear to me), people who have seen enough of the world to generally distinguish between right and wrong, are logical and rational and intellectual and the kind of people I am proud to know of and be friends with, on or off Facebook. In other words, my hypothesis that only an idiot can support a ban on artists based on their nationality, was thrown out of the window. I needed to understand what these ban supporters were thinking, that I was not. Why did this feel outright idiotic to me but not to them? And so I started conversations with some of them to get into the depth of their thinking and their logic. I couldn’t go too deep unfortunately. But I did scratch a few surfaces. And I am writing this piece to share what I learnt.

A quick list of justifications

that was given to me:

  1. India and Pakistan can’t be fighting and be having good relations at the same time. Would you play cricket (or make movie) with someone who bombed your house?
  2. Our country comes first. Period. Banning artists from Pakistan shows solidarity to our soldiers – who are being killed by that country.
  3. Banning artists from Pakistan is a way of ‘isolating’ that country, that will encourage the common Pakistani citizens to take matters in their own hands ultimately leading to tighter control over their army that funds and supports terrorism in India.
  4. This is business – people do what is profitable to them. The cinema theaters are banning these movies, not because they care about the soldiers but because they might suffer losses / damages by screening the movies.

The last justification was obviously not a direct answer to my question. I wanted to know what my FB friends thought about the ban – not what those who are banning, think about it. I grilled the person who gave that 4th justification. He kept going round and round around the “commercial” logic of the ban.

Me: I am asking ‘you’ if you think it’s okay for a ban like this. I am not asking the business owners. They clearly think it’s okay. And you have answered that. I don’t know how to ask the question then. Thanks anyway.
He: Are you asking if I were a businessman in that industry, would I ban them?

Me: Yeah, if you put it that way. What is your personal view about the logic of banning?
He: That depends on what is profitable. I’m agnostic about where the actors come from.

Me: And what do you think of the public that supports it?
He: Public is stupid.

After chatting up with different people, it became obvious to me that not everyone who was in favour of a ban, had the same logic.

“India and Pakistan can’t be fighting and be having good relations at the same time”,

was one of the justifications offered to me. But this makes it sound almost as if Pakistan is one person and India is another person. They are not. A country is a piece of land with generally a well defined border (which clearly is disputed in case of both India and Pakistan). A country is not one person. A country has its citizens, its local governments, its central government and most of the times, its army. And therefore, I think, a group from a country might be fighting with another group from another country and at the same time, two other groups / individuals could be making love. Sania Mirza did India proud and married a person who she fell in love with. How the fuck does her husband’s nationality matter here? She is like literally making love to a Pakistani and making India proud at the same time. Like literally. Think about that.

I can say whatever I want to, but after speaking to my friends who had said yes, it became obvious that most of them (not all) found it hard to not view Pakistan as one single entity. Try following the below conversation that I had with another friend.

She: Imagine I’m your best friend and you are going through this really terrible break up. You are hurting. Of course there is no right and wrong and it takes two to tango. But I will choose you. You will matter to me no matter who is right or wrong. And if I may say I will show you, what is called unconditional support or solidarity or whatever, just to get you through this phase. Because I believe loyalty does wonders. It takes off a little of the bitterness and maybe slowly you will see some reason and a different, better perspective. So in my country’s case if film stars not working for a brief time in India is a kind of solidarity I can show from my end, then be it. None of this lasts in any case (economic and trade sanctions, such banning etc.).
Me: So banning individual artists from a country (that they never chose in the first place) helps us show solidarity to our govt/army?

She: Nobody chooses a country to be born in.
Me: Exactly!

Her: It is showing solidarity to the country I am born in.
Me: So how does banning a citizen show solidarity? Ban Pak Govt. / Pak army.

She: How does showing loyalty to you of any consequence? I might as well be inviting your girl-friend home and hanging out with her no? It’s not her fault right?
Me: Girl-friend is ONE person. Pakistan is not one person.

She: It’s just unconditional support. I love Fawad Khan and Atif Aslam btw.

Another friend had a somewhat similar justification.

“…sometimes, without intellectual masturbation, we just need to show solidarity as a nation. Nation comes first. Period. Having said that, all our other trading activities with Pak should also come to a stop! As an individual, you may like whatever, watch whatever but at times like these when the Govt. has taken a stand to isolate Pak, we should not question the Govt!”

So this is what I think of this solidarity school of thought – it relies upon the emotions expressed by some of the below words (over and above ‘solidarity’ itself):

  • unconditional support;
  • loyalty;
  • don’t think much / don’t question;
  • sometimes / none of this lasts;

After these conversations, it is easy for me to understand why some of my friends view Pakistan as one person, while I don’t. They have convinced themselves that this phase will anyway pass, so it’s okay to just show loyalty without too much of thinking. I wonder though, if they will ever be able to get my perspective. I doubt it.

Now this is where things get pretty interesting. I got hold of one FB friend (have never met him in real life) who supported the ban AND at the same time, agreed with my perspective that Pakistan is not one person.

He: Right now Pakistani citizens have no say because they don’t bother. They have to bring a revolution.
Me: Ok. So you think if people of Pakistan feel the pain (by banning Paki artists amongst other things) then they will end up taking control of their army?

He: No, they will protest. Like India Against corruption. Like AAP. Maybe they make PAAP. Sorry for the unintentional pun.
Me: PAAP was a good one. 😛 So you are saying, if India bans Paki artists, people of Pakistan will start a revolution?

He: No that would be beginning of things. We need to isolate them completely on a global map.
Me: How about the resulting discrimination against an individual artist (based on his country, which he / she didn’t choose)? Is that okay?

He: Interesting. That’s my point. They need to migrate. Like Adnan Sami. Take refuge. Take citizenship. Like Tarek Fatah. And stop being proud to be a Pakistani.

This guy didn’t say anything about solidarity. For him, everything was ‘strategy’. A strategy to isolate Pakistan on a global map. And what better way to pull this off than by banning a Fawad Khan movie, right? A ‘beginning of things’.

Thankfully, at least so far, the Indian Government doesn’t believe in any of this bullshit.

The Government has issued (and will issue) visas to Pakistani artists (and citizens – unless there is a specific case by case issue). Trade and commerce between India and Pakistan has also been going just fine. Even that train that runs between the two countries, is running as usual.

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Source

To the friend who said “at times like these when the Govt. has taken a stand to isolate Pak, we should not question the Govt!”, what is the stand that we are talking about here? I don’t see no stand. Look, this isolation strategy might work, might not work. I don’t know about that. I am not a political strategist. But unless the ban on artists is a smaller part of the bigger strategy of isolation, it cannot be supported. It cannot be the ‘beginning of things’. It has to be the last thing to take place. Stop that fucking train first. Pull out Indian diplomats from Pakistan. Shut down the Pakistani Embassy in Delhi. Stop importing from Pakistan. And only when all of that is still not enough to ‘isolate’ Pakistan, think about the artists.

But then, why are artists the only target so far in the supposedly brilliant “isolation” strategy that will solve all India Pakistan problems?

I found a reasonable answer to this question from the video below. I had almost forgotten that news channels in India still had anything sensible (and not sensational) to offer, till a good friend shared this video. The panelists in this debate don’t abuse each other, the moderator doesn’t shout at them and for most part, everyone lets everyone else speak and talk and put forth their point of view. You don’t have to (if you don’t have enough time) see this 30 minute video to gain any new insight. There are not many additional points either for or against the ban, than what I have already discussed.

Pratibha Prahlad, a classical dancer, explains in this debate, why in the long list of connections that India has with Pakistan (from diplomacy to business) , artists are the ones who take the first hit (time and again). “Artists operate in public space and make for an easy target. No one cares about businessmen”, she says.

So what do gundaas like Raj Thackrey (who don’t hesitate to instigate Maharashtrians against non Maharashtrians time and again) do to be in the news and amass more fans? They play the patriotism card and make you believe there is no way you can show solidarity to this nation, till you show disrespect to an artist (even when you like them) based on his / her country. They convince you that an artist from Pakistan cannot be politically neutral and just do his / her job but HAS to also make political statements and say he hates his country, every-time terrorists from his country kill Indians.

In the same video above, Ashok Tandon gives one more interesting logic for why the ban is justified – “jawaans love Bollywood heroes – they are often role models. So when a Pakistani ends up playing a role that Indian Jawaans end up adoring, that will be weird”. Yes, that will indeed be weird. Imagine Fawaad Khan doing Hrithik’s role in Lakshya. Or Atif Aslam doing a music show in Siachen and the jawaans having a blast. How would these Jawaans kill Pakistanis after that when they go to a war? Or can they? Apparently they can. When soldiers take up a fight, they kill enemy soldiers or terrorists. And when they fight with / kill terrorists, nationality doesn’t matter. Indian soldiers kill Indian terrorists ALL THE TIME (Kashmir / North-east). So what next, we should ban Kashmiri and Manipuri artists every time a Kashmiri / Manipur terrorist blows up a bomb? No wait, when it comes to India, a Kashmiri artist and a Kashmiri terrorist is not one and the same. But when it comes to Pakistan, of course it’s just one person. And we should do everything that we can to isolate that person on a global map.

Just got an orgasm. Time to end the mental masturbation. Period.

Feature image source.

PS: I am grateful to all my friends who chatted with me on this topic. Please do not take offense. We all will live with our views at the end of the day. And may be life will teach us more things as we grow older. And wiser!

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